With homes sales down from this time last year and the Parade of Homes a bit smaller, tour-goers might wonder what's in store for this year's Parade. But builders are still showcasing their finest—and incorporating some key trends in this year's abodes.
A smaller home doesn’t mean that there’s only room for the bare essentials—it’s just a smarter use of the home’s square footage.
Cari Fuss, vice president of Urban Solutions and Hersh Homes, is working on homes in Middleton Ridge at Misty Valley (built by Encore Construction and Hersh Homes).
“The focus this year is definitely on a smaller footprint. The economic climate has created hesitancy on the builders’ part to build large-scale spec products,” says Fuss. “It’s a trend we’re seeing overall. People are really cognizant of their carbon footprint. And they’re thinking about their everyday lifestyle and getting back to the root of family life.”
Both homes hover in the low two thousands in square footage. Fuss says the focus is on open areas and the ease of family life.
The scaled-back square footage doesn’t mean that touches of luxury are lacking, though. “There’s still a heavy focus on quality. [In the kitchen there are] solid surface countertops (quartz), upgraded appliances and a cook’s kitchen layout. There’s a tile shower in the master bath with double showerheads, upgraded tile and very tasteful upgraded light fixtures. We’re still providing the feeling of luxury,” adds Fuss.
Accessible and Barrier-Free Living
Last year, Mike Vilstrup of TimberLane Builders was asked to work on a barrier-free/accessible home in the Parade’s Bristol Gardens subdivision for a man who was paralyzed from the chest down. Coincidentally enough, he was asked to work on a second barrier-free home for a family in this year’s Parade in—you guessed it—Bristol Gardens.
“Last year there were a lot of people who were interested in the elevator, wider hallways and some of the other things that we did to make sure the home was accessible and barrier free,” says Vilstrup.
He says that most homeowners don’t realize what it takes to build an accessible home, including wider doorways, no steps or inclines (which means raising the entire home’s elevation about a foot) and a perfectly level garage floor so a wheelchair won’t roll away when getting in and out of a vehicle.
“In the kitchen there are a lot of things, too. There are so many things you don’t realize you can lose the ability to do [when in a wheelchair]. So we put in things like an air button for light switches that the homeowner can tap with their hand to turn the lights on and off. We were able to find an oven door that opened sideways so the homeowner wasn’t leaning over the hot door when opening the oven. Every person has different needs and a different reason that they’re in their situation.”
Vilstrup points out that this year’s homeowner had only been using about twenty percent of the family’s previous home—but in the Bristol Gardens home he’ll be able to use much more living space. In fact, the Waupaca elevator that’s installed in the home will allow him to use 1,300 extra feet of living space in the lower level.
After all, with this year’s economic climate homeowners want bang for their buck—and that includes using available space.
Families are busy today—so there’s a need to decompress and relax at home. Fuss says they incorporated “pods” in their Middleton Ridge home—a mudroom/entry area with custom-constructed cubbies, a great room/kitchen area that’s as appropriate for entertaining work buddies as it is the soccer team, and a homework nook that overlooks the great room.
“There’s a need for families to reconnect at the end of the busy day,” she says.
Indeed, looking at the Parade’s three subdivisions—Middleton Ridge at Misty Valley, Bristol Gardens and Southbridge the Kilkenny Addition—all are located close to shopping, schools, parks and more, yet still blend in a little bit of country feel.
“Communities are promoting higher-density residential development and going back to a more traditional design,” Fuss says. “The subdivision we’re building in incorporates common areas and green space. We’ve clustered the lots to allow people to have access to the green space.”
Vilstrup agrees that it’s all about the Parade community more than anything else and, in fact, that’s why he built his home in Bristol Gardens.
“People are interested in these properties; the parks, the recreation and they’ve got nice lots.”
Even when things change in the Parade of Homes world, there are still things that stay the same: the amenities, close-knit communities and, of course, being together with family—no matter how big the home is.
Shayna Miller is associate/style editor of Madison Magazine.